Study: Empowering staff with information is key to clinical transformation

June 22, 2011

When it comes to clinical transformation, information really is power. And if you don?t share enough information to empower staff, you probably won't get the results you want. That was the lesson from a recent study by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and McKesson, the health care technology company. Your practice can plan now to avoid those problems.

When it comes to clinical transformation, information really is power. And if you don’t share enough information to empower staff, you probably won't get the results you want.

That lesson comes from a study released in June by the Health Care Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) and McKesson, the healthcare technology company. The study found that healthcare organizations generally are committed to clinical transformation, with 86% of those surveyed having teams devoted to “assessing and continually improving the way patient care is delivered.” However, fewer than half of the organizations using advanced clinical systems to track and measure factors critical to quality improvement make the clinical scorecards accessible to all employees, and just 51% share unit-level financial metrics with supervisors.

While 90% of the respondents to the HIMSS survey worked for hospitals or corporate healthcare systems, smaller physician practices that are implementing electronic health records (EHRs) can learn from their experiences. Taking steps now to determine the reports you need and how you will communicate the results will give your practice a jump start on improving clinical and financial performance down the road:

• Decide upfront what you want to measure and how you will define the terms clinicians use in your EHR. You’ll avoid two of the most significant barriers to using clinical data for quality reporting purposes mentioned by survey respondents-inadequate reporting tools (54%) and inconsistent definition of data (55%).

• Ask your vendor to enable you to view financial and clinical results together. While many of the respondents identified areas in which improved clinical quality translated into cost savings, very few organizations presented clinical and financial data in the same view or format-even to the clinical executives who received both reports. If you can see the reports together, it will be easier to understand the interrelationships of the results.

• Determine how you will share results with staff. Most of the organizations in the survey reported using multiple means to communicate results with departmental meetings being the most common at 81% and 54% offering educational programs to help staff understand the outcomes.

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